The great thing about Brighton is all the quirky little clubs, if you can find them. The Catalyst Club is one, down the Joogleberry every second Thursday (when it's not) - with Dora Bryan next month! Another is 'On the edge', a night of improvised music etc by Safehouse, which used to be downstairs at The Sanctuary Cafe but is now at the Open House pub. Last night for a modest four quid we got 20 minutes of the Wildcard Quartet, comprising names pulled from a hat, this time my old mate Gus Garside on double bass, and blokes various on cornet, soprano sax and electronic ukulele. Next up was a Song-Picture-Performance with Mr Eugene playing electric violin as Nickova attacked a miked-up canvas with black and white paint (all around was shrouded in polythene!). The resulting painting was put up for auction and made 26 quid, I think. Last on was Hugh Metcalfe, renowned for The Klinker, and his work with Bob Cobbing and Lol Coxhill, amongst others. We got film, guitar, violin and voice from Hugh and keyboard accompaniment from Darren Morris. It could have been Guildford Arts Lab circa 1969, but I don't think they had synthesizers back then!
Last night I went to the launch of the Celebrating Age festival in the 20th century design section of Brighton Museum - all those chairs and nowhere to sit! My 'Artistic licence' got me in and there was plenty of free wine, but disappointingly little scoff. I'm still a bit ambivalent about this whole thing. Even tho my painting of 'The Seven Sisters from Seaford Head' is in the Open Houses brochure, the entertainment at the PV included a 'jazz' band playing tea dance music and loads of young girls dressed as Nippies. I'm too young to remember these, but I think they were waitresses at the Lyons Corner Houses. Anyway I thought I'd draw a Zimmer frame for the perplexed, while I ponder on whether it was patronising to the over-50s or not...
I'll be showing work at two lots of Open Houses this July. On 1 & 2 and 8 & 9 July I'll be in Thompson Towers, 18 Chancton View Road, Worthing B11 5JR, not far from West Worthing station, along with Dan and Tracey Thompson, part of the Artists and Makers Festival. This is also your opportunity to view a chancton or two (Dan's joke). On 22 & 23 and 29 & 30 I'll be in Jackie Jones's house, 51 Upper Lewes Road, Brighton BN2 3FH, part of the Celebrating Age festival. Yes, it's hard to believe I'm over 50!
On the Save The Shoreham Toll Bridge charity bike ride on Sunday 25 June, I became all Nature Boy and shot some snaps of wild flowers. Being an urban lad from Up North, I'm not sure what they are called, and I can't really tell the difference between a flower and a weed, but I do know what I like! The field of poppies on the Downs Link by the River Arun was spectacular, and I spotted my first wild orchid, identified on t'internet as Pyramidal Orchid (Anacamptis pyramidalis). Woo yay!
On Saturday I had a wander around Guildford to see how much it had changed in the 19 years since I left. The Odeon has been demolished, so has the Surrey Ad building! The High Street looks much the same, so does the Castle, and there''s still a market on North Street! Many shops have disappeared: Bretts Burgers, Andertons and Dick Middleton Music have all gone, but EastWest is still there, by the youth centre! The Civic Hall, site of many a fine gig, lies deserted and dark. The Bull's Head on the High Street is now a jewellers, and the Two Brewers has an extra one and is now called The Three Tuns! It was hot so I popped into The Kings Head for a pint, but the football table was nowhere to be seen! The Star is still there, as is Phoenix Court, but no Bonapartes Records. Guildford has become the sort of place they give things away: I got given a free peanut KitKat bar and free bottle of fruity water on the way to the station (Bridge House is different too, and where's Len Ferrar's barbers shop, and the Orphanage Hall?) and outa there! Phew! For a nostalgic view of Guildford, see my Shyneford site.
Returned to my alma mater the University of Surrey on Friday for a 100th anniversary of the physics department event. Arrived early but couldn't find anything open in that grim brick campus. After a lecture by Jim Al-Khalili, we went off to Roots, under the great hall where I saw The Who play, for a free glass of Pimms and a wedding reception type buffet, including a revolting chocolate fountain device. It was great to meet Prof Lewis Elton and his wife Mary after all these years. It was down to him and his art exhibitions in the Physics dept corridors at Battersea and Guildford that I became interested in painting. Glad to see he now has a gallery on campus named after him. I got him to sign my PEMS notes from 1965. He looks great for his age and was on great form during the speeches, you can see where his famous son Ben got it from...
I did promise, on my British Blues page, a history of Helix, the poetry and jazz band (don't laugh!), starring Yours Truly on harmonica and poems, Rick Welton, also on poems, Chris Brunt on flute, alto sax, clarinet and guitar, Peter Panayi on bass, Peter Jackson on guitar and Terry Raven on drums. I'm off to a Physics Dept reunion at the University of Surrey in Guildford tomorrow and, rooting through some ephemera, found a cutting of an ad in NME (or was it Melody Maker?) showing us supporting Joe Cocker on 24 January 1969, our greatest achievement!
It all started in the folk club at UoS (then Battersea College of Advanced Technology) where me and Chris did a double act: he (Blind Willie Brunt?) on guitar and me (Whistlin' Walshaw Fred) on harmonica, singing the blues. Also playing regularly were duo Pete Panayi and Ronnie Hicks (wife of Rick Welton). Eventually we all got together to perform Dylan songs with Ronnie as vocalist. Rick was the roadie (he had a van) but started adding his poetry to the mix. Then Ronnie left and we decided to go electric. An ad in NME (or was it Melody Maker?) produced Peter Jackson, who'd been playing the US bases in Germany, and part-time Horror film actor Terry Raven. By now we were doing poems (me funny; Rick serious) and the odd Mose Allison song (plus 'Scarborough Fair' I think!). There is one recording extant, made at All Saints Hall in Notting Hill, recorded by Ronnie's new bloke, film sound man Tony Jackson, but we never made any records.
We were represented by Pete Jenner of the Blackhill agency (who'd managed Pink Floyd before Syd left) - Lynne, a booker there, was married to my friend Adrian Boot, who went on to famously photograph Bob Marley and others. We did gigs at Canterbury (supporting Third Ear Band), Bradford (with Liverpool Scene), Chelsea Town Hall, somewhere in south Wales, in Battersea's Courland Grove halls of residence where I met an American girl called Claire, and in Guildford, at the university with Roy Harper, and the Stoke Hotel where I met Jenny Parsons and was introduced to Guildford Arts Lab. Two notable concerts were the Jazz Poetry Song Package at Battersea Town Hall on 28 November 1968 and Guildford Civic Hall on 8 December, both with the Michael Garrick Quintet featuring Don Rendell and Ian Carr with various poets, including Jeremy Robson and Vernon Scannell, and Pete Brown (of Cream lyrics fame) and his Battered Ornaments (inc Chris Spedding and Dick Heckstall-Smith).
The Stoke Hotel gig may have been our last. Rick moved to Guildford to run the first Guildford Festival, and I followed some time later. Chris teamed up with Ronnie and Eric Johns (brother of Dorris Henderson) to form Gallerie, who played with Roy Harper and Michael Chapman in the 1971 Guildford Festival, the one I directed. By now I was reading poetry with the Arts Lab and about to get married. To be continued dot dot dot
No sooner is the Brighton Festival over, than the Adur Festival begins. Last week I went to Glastonwick, this Sunday it was over to Shoreham-by-Sea again to visit the Open House-boats, including the huge ex-minesweeper Fische. We had a lovely cream tea next door on the ex-landing craft Valeur, to the sound of The King in Vegas. Unfortuunately the African drumming and circus in the marquee was cancelled but we had a stroll along the beach looking at the wild flowers then I had a private tour of the Art in Ropetackle by residents Bob and Angela.
The Brighton leg of the World Naked Bike Ride set off from The Level at around 10.15 after much body painting and disguising of 'naughty and rude bits' under the supervision of a handful of police bobbies (far fewer than on the average Critical Mass). It was a scorcher of a morning and about 160 people cycled down to the seafront, west to Hove, through the North Laine, into Kemp Town and finally to the nudist beach where they could get dressed again. Some were off to London for the rally in the Big City. More photos on Flickr tho none of the ride itself cos I was too busy videoing it.
Les Cyclistes, devised by David Furnham, is a play of two halves: Danny Schlesinger opens with an amiable Jacques Tati-type mime based around his Brompton with a flat front tyre, improvising with all the weird and wonderful tools that come with a puncture-repair kit! Then Simon Hedger, dressed as a hard-core cyclist takes over and does a Reg-type monotonous monologue about his Audax exploits as he brews a cup of tea in the cyclists' kitchen. There's quite a bit of Clarion interest - first thing he does is shout Boots! to the audience (I replied Spurs! which identifies me as a Clarionnette). Great entertainment - and it's all free - on Hove Lawns by the Peace statue. There's also several films on the go, in the marquee and in the Citroen van next door, including hilarious archive Pathe footage and the company's own film Allez, Allez, Alllez. There's also an interactive bike taking you on a dicey ride around some suburban streets. It's on until 18 June (not Mondays) from 10am until 6pm. Shame the sunshine is proving to be a bigger draw!
Last night went by train and bike to Shoreham-by-Sea for the Glastonwick beer and punk festival in the Art Deco splendour of Shoreham Airport. Headlining was John Otway, assisted by Attila the Stockbroker doing a simultaneous German translation of 'You ain't seen nothing yet' amongst other interjections. An excellent set including 'House of the Rising Sun' and all his hits, including the requisite number of forward rolls and head butts of the microphone. Also on the bill was ex-Pirhana 'Boring' Bob Grover's new band Dates who also did a sterling set. But it was a lovely evening and we drank beer under the big blue sky to the sound of planes taking off. More photos on Flickr. As you may guess from the uninspired review, today I was all cultured out, missed a Clarion ride, but managed to take in Gus's birthday lunch and a trip round the Art School degree show to pick up some postcards. Did I mention the BIP PV with Pimms and fairy cakes at the Fishermen's Museum Friday night and the PV of Les Cyclistes on Hove Lawns Saturday afternoon? No? I need a night in!