Archive for the ‘The Arts & Entertainment’ Category

Hazel O’Connor & Myton Hospices

December 5, 2011

My good friend Hazel O’Connor is backing a hospice for which a fund-raising appeal for more nurses is launched. Myton hospices in Rugby, Coventry and Warwick offer free care to 2,000 people every year and rely heavily on donations of £7m a year their running costs.

If you have nothing better to do on the following days, and are in the area, come along and support Hazel and the appeal.

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Tim Garland: Libra

February 9, 2009

Tim Garland is one those musicians whose work I so admire that I’d go a long way to listen to it.  Any new project that he’s involved in has got to be of some interest.

Tim Garland: Libra

(Global Mix)

Tim Garland

Libra

(Global Mix)

 

Libra.

Libra.

 

£12.72

2009

Buy Libra at the Guardian shop

 

This is the kind of music that you need to sink into. Spacious, rhapsodic and packed with gorgeous textures, it overflows any category you try to fit round it. Garland is well known as a virtuoso saxophonist, and his playing here is phenomenal, but it’s his talent for creating something unique out of diverse musical idioms that makes him such an adventurous and impressive composer. Along with his long-time partners, pianist Gwilym Simcock and percussionist Asaf Sirkis, this two-CD set features guitarist Paul Bollenback, an all-star wind section and the entire Royal Philharmonic Orchestra.

Note to those who have not heard him, or of him: he has a website, www.timgarland.com , which is as good a place as any to start.

My Life in Lyrics by Clive James (The Guardian)

April 1, 2008

Clive James  has once again written about his life as a song lyricist.  An extract,  coomplete with links, has now been posted on Midnight Voices , The Pete Atkin Web Form.

 

My Life in Lyrics by Clive James
« : Today at 08:28 »
Quote


From Clive James’s  My Life in Lyrics…… The Guardian Tuesday April 1, 2008
 
>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
 
……writing song lyrics is my favourite form of writing anything. I’ve never managed to become famous for it. In fact, I’m almost entirely obscure for it, and I fear that being attached to me has done a lot to prevent my musical partner, Pete Atkin, from reaching the degree of celebrity he deserves. But, for me, writing lyrics is up there with writing poetry, the chief difference being that while writing poetry has always paid me little compared with writing prose, writing lyrics has paid me hardly anything at all. There are lyricists who become millionaires. I’m not one of them, but lately I’ve found myself writing lyrics again, after a long lay-off that was really due to a lack of attention rather than lack of income. You can do without armies of raving fans, but not without a certain level of interest. I’m glad to say that the certain level of interest is not only back, but has gone up a notch…………..
 
…………….
 
Midnight Voices: The Clive James-Pete Atkin Songbook Vol 1 is available from Amazon or direct from peteatkin.com. Pete Atkin will be performing at the Stables, Milton Keynes, on April 4. Details: 01908 280800.
 
 
Audio: Perfect Moments by Pete Atkin, lyrics by Clive James

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

 
The Guardian, G2.
Tuesday April 1, 2008
 
Kevin Cryan

Clive James – Pete Atkin songbook.

October 5, 2007

Pete Atkin’s new album, Midnight Voices:the Clive James- Pete Atkin Songbook, Volume 1, can be purchased from here. The samples and track listing can be found by clicking here

.

Smash Flops the Pete Atkin Home Page

Midnight Voices

Music by Pete Atkin / Lyrics by Clive James

Featuring: Pete Atkin – vocals, acoustic guitars; Simon Wallace – piano;

With: Mike Outram – electric guitar; Alan Barnes – clarinet, tenor sax (doublin‘ on baritone); Clive Bell – shakuhachi; Sarah Moule – harmony vocal.

Recorded and mixed by Simon Wallace 

The Clive James-Pete Atkin Songbook Volume 1

August 12, 2007

Pete Atkin has been working on a series of new recordings of Pete Atkin/Clive James songs for his forthcoming album, Midnight Voices -the Clive James-Pete Atkin Songbook Volume One*, which is to be released later this year.

Thanks to Pete and Steve Birkill (see Pete Atkin in blogroll on the right), a preview of one of those recordings, Laughing Boy, is now available as a taster of what is to come. 

On the 26th of June 2007, as part of a posting to Midnight Voices – The Pete Atkin Web Forum, Pete wrote: 

I’m going to call the CD “Midnight Voices – the Clive James-Pete Atkin Songbook Volume One.”  The songs** included will be (not necessarily in this order) –
 
Touch Has A Memory
Senior Citizens
Thief in the Night
Be Careful When They Offer You the Moon
Thirty Year Man
Sessionman’s Blues
The Flowers and the Wine
Payday Evening
Between Us There Is Nothing
The Hypertension Kid
Perfect Moments
The Faded Mansion on the Hill
Master of the Revels
Laughing Boy
Beware of the Beautiful Stranger
 

 —————————————————————

*Simon Wallace (piano), Mark Hodgson (bass),  Roy Dodds (drums and percussion) & Pete Atkin (voice and guitar). Electric guitar contributions from Mike Outram , with additional guest appearances by Sarah Moule  (vocal), Clive Bell (shakuhachi), and Alan Barnes (clarinet and tenor & baritone saxes) 

**Details of all these songs can be found on under the The Pete Atkin Discography link on Smash Flops – the Pete Atkin website. 

Where are we now?

August 6, 2007

 This Yahoo News item comes as no surprise; all the same it is most worrying. 

London (Reuters) – As many as 11 million British motorists are unable to read a basic road map, according to a survey released on Monday. The poll revealed over three quarters of drivers were unable to identify the motorway map symbol, while only one percent of motorists would pass the Cub Scout Map Reader badge test.“It’s pretty embarrassing the majority of Cub Scouts have better map-reading skills than the majority of the adult population,” said Colin Batabyal, head of underwriting and business development at eSure, which carried out the survey.Sixteen percent of drivers have become so heavily reliant on satellite navigation systems that they have given up keeping a map in their car.“It’s time for motorists to take a refresher in map-reading skills,” said Scott Sinclair of national mapping agency Ordnance Survey. “Technology is great but the batteries won’t run out on a paper map.“No serious hill walker would rely totally on a GPS device in case the power goes or the signal is lost, so it should be the same for the motorist,” added Sinclair.

The survey — based on a poll of 1,000 UK drivers — estimated Britons’ poor map-reading skills resulted in 36 billion wasted miles being driven each year.

That’s a lot of wasted miles.

Christine Tobin on the “artist’s dignity”

August 4, 2007

On last night’s edition BBC Radio 3’s Jazz Library the presenter Alyn Shipton was joined by Irish-born Jazz singer  Christine Tobin  (photo and blogroll) to choose the best of Bille Holiday’s recorded output.

Towards the end of the programme, and before playing a May 1956 recording of God Bless the Child, reissued by Verve on the ten cd set The Complete Billie Holiday on Verve (Number 5138592 CD 6), Shipton asks Tobin what she thinks of Verve’s including on it rehearsal versions of songs, including one of God Bless the Child on which which snatches of conversation between Holiday and Tony Scott at Mae and William Dufty’s house, 30 May 1956 are audible.

As I happen to think that the important issue of how much of the artistic process the public should ever be given access to is raised by  the short discussion that followed, I am printing a full transcript of it here. 

Christine Tobin: I think morally it is a suspect thing to do, because and artist will think long and hard deciding when going into the studio what takes to put out. You rehearse the music and you get it right, because you have a vision of how you want it to sound – and obviously Billie Holiday had that – I’m sure she would have had that. Then you get somebody who comes along  and releases that – so it’s not the complete vision she had. I think it’s a great infringement on her dignity.  

( part of Conversation and God Bless The Child (rehearsal) is played) 

Alyn Shipton: I take it slightly differently to that. I listen to that piece of rehearsal – with the car horns and the noise of the street outside and the telephone ringing – all sorts of other conversations going on in the background – and you hear Tony ,,, to get the keys sorted out. (Obviously he’s got a notebook and he’s jotting down “we’re going to do this one in E flat or whatever – he actually goes through it about fourteen times to try to get exactly the right speed, even phrasing) – and then you hear the complete magic in the studio – and her voice has lost its  edge: its lost the rawness of rehearsal and you hear just what an extraordinary she was in the right studio setting. 

Christine Tobin: Yes but in the piece you gust heard saying to “tell that son-of- bitch to go away” or something like that – she does not sound anything like that when she sings. When she sings,  this is the person she is presenting – that’s her artistic decision and the other side is not something she brings to the stage – nor can I hear any sense of it in any of the recordings I have. So, I have to disagree with you – I think it’s wrong, and I think it’s an intrusion – it makes a mockery of a persons artistic choices.

Anybody acquainted -even silghtly – with Tobin will not find the agrument about the issue of material not intended foir public consumption an “an infringement” of “dignity” in any way surprising. She has a very heightened sense of her own dignity as an artist – in fact, some would go so far as to say that her sense of dignitly is so developed that it hampers her artistic development – and no doubt feels that all artists should be imbued with that same sense.

However, be that as it may, there is a lot to be said for the argument she puts in this case. I cannot for the life of me see what insights we are expected to get from rehearsal material of this kind of the kind Verve has made available on Holiday. Alyn Shipton seems to think that it highlights “her complete magic in the studio”, but, by the same token, so would a recording of her singing in the bath or her humming while on a shopping spree.  

That is not say that I would want to see all material of this kind consigned to the dustbin, although I fairly certain that Tobin would.  I do honestly believe that the listener might get a understanding of how the singer had arrived at the definitive version of a song if he or she had access to versions that had been disgarded, and I certainly would not want them to be denied that access forever. As a teacher (which I believe she occasionally is), Tobin should know that the lesson an artist can teach is the importance of choices. If, as students, we cannot see choices being made, how are we to understand them?  

_______________________________________________

Jazz Library: Billie Holiday

Still Waiting for Godot

August 3, 2007

On this day 1955 the  English-language premiere of  Samuel Beckett’s revolutionary play Waiting for Godot was given English-language  at the Arts Theatre, London, directed by the 24-year-old Peter Hall 

Part of Beckett’s the introduction to an early version reads I don’t know who Godot is. I don’t even know (above all don’t know) if he exists. And I don’t know if they believe in him or not – those two who are waiting for him. The other two who pass by towards the end of each of the two acts, that must be to break up the monotony. All I knew I showed. It’s not much, but it’s enough for me, by a wide margin. I’ll even say that I would have been satisfied with less. As for wanting to find in all that a broader, loftier meaning to carry away from the performance, along with the program and the Eskimo pie, I cannot see the point of it. But it must be possible … Estragon, Vladimir, Pozzo, Lucky, their time and their space, I was able to know them a little, but far from the need to understand. Maybe they owe you explanations. Let them supply it. Without me. They and I are through with each other.

Not surprisingly, it was reported that some of the audience on that first night– perhaps as much as half of it – walked out before the second act, such was their incomprehension. The play has for all that has justifiably gone on to be considered one of the great plays of the last century.   

Waiting for Godot

ACT I (extract)
 

Act 2

Back to Samuel Beckett Resources

A country road. A tree.

Evening.

Estragon, sitting on a low mound, is trying to take off his boot. He pulls at it with both hands, panting. #

He gives up, exhausted, rests, tries again.
As before.
Enter Vladimir.
ESTRAGON:
(giving up again). Nothing to be done.
VLADIMIR:
(advancing with short, stiff strides, legs wide apart). I’m beginning to come round to that opinion. All my life I’ve tried to put it from me, saying Vladimir, be reasonable, you haven’t yet tried everything. And I resumed the struggle. (He broods, musing on the struggle. Turning to Estragon.) So there you are again.
ESTRAGON:
Am I?
VLADIMIR:
I’m glad to see you back. I thought you were gone forever.
ESTRAGON:
Me too.
VLADIMIR:
Together again at last! We’ll have to celebrate this. But how? (He reflects.) Get up till I embrace you.
ESTRAGON:
(irritably). Not now, not now.
VLADIMIR:
(hurt, coldly). May one inquire where His Highness spent the night?
ESTRAGON:
In a ditch.
VLADIMIR:
(admiringly). A ditch! Where?
ESTRAGON:
(without gesture). Over there.
VLADIMIR:
And they didn’t beat you?
ESTRAGON:
Beat me? Certainly they beat me.
VLADIMIR:
The same lot as usual?
ESTRAGON:
The same? I don’t know.
VLADIMIR:
When I think of it . . . all these years . . . but for me . . . where would you be . . . (Decisively.) You’d be nothing more than a little heap of bones at the present minute, no doubt about it.
ESTRAGON:
And what of it?
VLADIMIR:
(gloomily). It’s too much for one man. (Pause. Cheerfully.) On the other hand what’s the good of losing heart now, that’s what I say. We should have thought of it a million years ago, in the nineties.
ESTRAGON:
Ah stop blathering and help me off with this bloody thing.
VLADIMIR:
Hand in hand from the top of the Eiffel Tower, among the first. We were respectable in those days. Now it’s too late. They wouldn’t even let us up. (Estragon tears at his boot.) What are you doing?
ESTRAGON:
Taking off my boot. Did that never happen to you?
VLADIMIR:
Boots must be taken off every day, I’m tired telling you that. Why don’t you listen to me?
ESTRAGON:
(feebly). Help me!
VLADIMIR:
It hurts?
ESTRAGON:
(angrily). Hurts! He wants to know if it hurts!
VLADIMIR:
(angrily). No one ever suffers but you. I don’t count. I’d like to hear what you’d say if you had what I have.
ESTRAGON:
It hurts?
VLADIMIR:
(angrily). Hurts! He wants to know if it hurts!
ESTRAGON:
(pointing). You might button it all the same.
VLADIMIR:
(stooping). True. (He buttons his fly.) Never neglect the little things of life.
ESTRAGON:
What do you expect, you always wait till the last moment.
VLADIMIR:
(musingly). The last moment . . . (He meditates.) Hope deferred maketh the something sick, who said that?
ESTRAGON:
Why don’t you help me?
VLADIMIR:
Sometimes I feel it coming all the same. Then I go all queer. (He takes off his hat, peers inside it, feels about inside it, shakes it, puts it on again.) How shall I say? Relieved and at the same time . . . (he searches for the word) . . . appalled. (With emphasis.) AP-PALLED. (He takes off his hat again, peers inside it.) Funny. (He knocks on the crown as though to dislodge a foreign body, peers into it again, puts it on again.) Nothing to be done. (Estragon with a supreme effort succeeds in pulling off his boot. He peers inside it, feels about inside it, turns it upside down, shakes it, looks on the ground to see if anything has fallen out, finds nothing, feels inside it again, staring sightlessly before him.) Well?
ESTRAGON:
Nothing.
VLADIMIR:
Show me.
ESTRAGON:
There’s nothing to show.
VLADIMIR:
Try and put it on again.
ESTRAGON:
(examining his foot). I’ll air it for a bit.
VLADIMIR:
There’s man all over for you, blaming on his boots the faults of his feet. (He takes off his hat again, peers inside it, feels about inside it, knocks on the crown, blows into it, puts it on again.) This is getting alarming. (Silence. Vladimir deep in thought, Estragon pulling at his toes.) One of the thieves was saved. (Pause.) It’s a reasonable percentage. (Pause.) Gogo.
ESTRAGON:
What?
VLADIMIR:
Suppose we repented.
ESTRAGON:
Repented what?
VLADIMIR:
Oh . . . (He reflects.) We wouldn’t have to go into the details.
ESTRAGON:
Our being born?
Vladimir breaks into a hearty laugh which he immediately stifles, his hand pressed to his pubis, his face contorted.
VLADIMIR:
One daren’t even laugh any more.
ESTRAGON:
Dreadful privation.
VLADIMIR:
Merely smile. (He smiles suddenly from ear to ear, keeps smiling, ceases as suddenly.) It’s not the same thing. Nothing to be done. (Pause.) Gogo.
ESTRAGON:
(irritably). What is it?
VLADIMIR:
Did you ever read the Bible?
ESTRAGON:
The Bible . . . (He reflects.) I must have taken a look at it.
VLADIMIR:
Do you remember the Gospels?
ESTRAGON:
I remember the maps of the Holy Land. Coloured they were. Very pretty. The Dead Sea was pale blue. The very look of it made me thirsty. That’s where we’ll go, I used to say, that’s where we’ll go for our honeymoon. We’ll swim. We’ll be happy.
VLADIMIR:
You should have been a poet.
ESTRAGON:
I was. (Gesture towards his rags.) Isn’t that obvious?
Silence.
VLADIMIR:
Where was I . . . How’s your foot?
ESTRAGON:
Swelling visibly.
VLADIMIR:
Ah yes, the two thieves. Do you remember the story?
ESTRAGON:
No.
VLADIMIR:
Shall I tell it to you?
ESTRAGON:
No.
VLADIMIR:
It’ll pass the time. (Pause.) Two thieves, crucified at the same time as our Saviour. One—
ESTRAGON:
Our what?
VLADIMIR:
Our Saviour. Two thieves. One is supposed to have been saved and the other . . . (he searches for the contrary of saved) . . . damned.
ESTRAGON:
Saved from what?
VLADIMIR:
Hell.

“High” culture V “low” culture.

July 15, 2007

Clive James’s Cultural Amnesia.

April 27, 2007

William Deresiewicz has written a long and perceptive review of Clive James’s* Cultural Amnesia** in yesterday’s issue of The Nation.
 
It’s, for very good and obvious reasons, headed Café Society, but, bearing in mind that it is written for an American readers, many of whom will not be familiar with Mr. James’s writing , I believe it could just as easily, and as usefully, be called Introducing Clive James.
 
If you consider these paragraphs lifted more or less at random from the piece, I think you’ll see what I mean:
 
His imagined reader is a young intellectual making his or her start in culture the way the author himself did half a century ago, and James offers a steady stream of advice on how to go about the business of self-education: must-reads and how-tos, anecdotes and exemplars. One of his highest terms of praise is “he figured it out for himself.”
——-
 
In James’s cosmology, the university is the infernal (and infertile) counterpart to the paradise of the cafe. Humanism means interconnection, and the cafe gives that interconnection social form. Academia necessitates specialization and incessantly discourages intellectual breadth (now more than ever, no matter how much lip service is paid to “interdisciplinarity”)
——-
 
Cultural Amnesia is an extended defense of literary journalism as occupying not only an honorable place within the hierarchy of cultural discourse but the supreme one. For journalism demands both simplicity and compression, and compression makes language glow. James’s stylistic models are writers like Altenberg, who could “pour a whole view of life, a few cupfuls at a time, into the briefest of paragraphs.” His highest hero, “the voice behind the [book’s] voices” (and one of several exceptions to his rule of writing only about twentieth-century figures), is Tacitus. It was Tacitus who wrote the sentence out of which the entire volume grew: “They make a desert and they call it peace.” James heard the line quoted as a young man and “saw straight away that a written sentence could sound like a spoken one, but have much more in it.”
 

*see blogroll on the right.   

**subtitled Notes in the Margin of my Time for the UK and Australian market and Necessary Memories from History and the Arts for the U.S market 

A slightly ammended version of this appears Midnight Voices section of the Pete Atkin website