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Sunday, 28 June 2015

A RAINBOW OVER LONDON - MAGENTA AT THE BORDERLINE

It may have been the Rainbow day but we had only one colour on our mind, Magenta.

Saturday 27th June was so suddenly upon us and we were off to London, to the Borderline to see Magenta, after of course the obligatory afternoon visiting some of our favourite 'establishments' and watching the tail end of the Pride celebrations.

It was a hot day, a very hot day and that all seemed to add to the (from everything we saw) friendly carnival atmosphere, it was pretty damn busy though!

As far as the gig itself goes, wow! Pete Jones (Tiger Moth Tales) playing live was just something so beautiful and amazing, playing songs from his Cocoon and the new Storytellers Part One albums we just knew we were in for a treat this night.

Magenta were, as they say, 'Up for it', an absolutely stunning set, perfect in every way and when David Longdon (From Big Big Train) joined them on stage to sing Spectral Mornings, well, it was one of those jaw dropping magical moments that don't happen too often.

It was a very special gig for so many reasons, not only was the music absolutely brilliant it was also the biggest gathering of the prog loving community that we've been to since Celebr8.3 and so good to see so many friends on such a beautiful day.

A Rainbow Over London 

Despite the seemingly inevitable train delay
We were finally on our way
Straight down to Euston
For a fine lunch in the Bree Louise
And some excellent ale if you please


So today it was just Chris and me
On this most glorious of days
The sun was shining
The beer was flowing
And so were we
As we wound our way to the Euston Tap


Now the plan was to catch a bus
Up to Tottenham Court Road
But not today it seemed
They just wouldn’t go
“It’s chaos up there”
The bus driver said
So we caught the tube instead


Emerging once more into the sun
And straight into the tail end of Pride
There were some stunning costumes
I saw visions of angels
And there was reggae on the street
We danced to the intoxicating beat
Before a drink in Weatherspoons
And the best kebab I’ve ever had!

Round the corner to the Borderline
To name all we knew who were there?
Well there just isn’t time
It may have been rainbow day
But we had only one colour on our mind
Magenta

The incredibly talented Pete Jones a.k.a. Tiger Moth Tales
Pete Jones Tiger Moth Tales
Was a revelation
Exquisite in every way
Before Magenta seized the day
And treated us to what could well be
The gig of the year for Chris and me
And when David Longdon joined them to sing
Spectral Mornings
Wow, just wow!
For now, I’m lost for words.

The magnificent Magenta

On behalf of us all who had such a wonderful time, huge love and thanks to Jon Patrick and all at The House of Progression for putting on one of the finest gigs of the year.

If you want to explore either of these fine artists in more depth then I can highly recommend Tiger Moth Tales Storytellers Part One:-


And no finer introduction to Magenta than the new double album, The Singles Complete:-


So, after a couple of weeks of musical adventuring it's back to normality for a while at least, until the next time, cool runnings one and all.

Grant, June 2015

Saturday, 27 June 2015

URBAN GRAFFITI - PARNASSUS PERFORMANCE AT THE STEVENAGE ARTS FESTIVAL 2015

So for the third time in less than a week I found myself up on stage in front of an audience introducing some fine artists as we presented our evening of poetry and music 'Urban Graffiti' as part of the 2015 Stevenage Arts Festival.
For me this was one of the most nerve wracking moments as, you see, I had organised this evening and it really relies on all of our performers choosing suitable sets and sticking to their allotted times.
I needn't have worried, everyone did a splendid job and a damn fine night was had by all.


From the official festival program:-


Our poster for the event:-


We had a good audience which included both the chair of the Arts Festival Committee and the leader of Stevenage Borough Council no less + we were graced by the presence of not one but two of the official festival photographers!

After welcoming the audience and special guests I did a short introductory talk about Parnassus and then a couple of poems to lead us into the evening proper.

OK, here we go again.
 Our first performer was the lovey Francesca June singing us into the evening's proceedings:_

Francesca June
Our first poet of the evening (Other than me) was the very talented and successful author J. S. Watts who entertained us with some dark and some humorous tales:-
J S Watts
Following on, the next poet was the irrepressible Graeme Lloyd with his amusing but very observant poetry, most entertaining indeed.

Graeme Lloyd
After Graeme's set Francesca was back to sing us a song before the welcome return of Nick Brown in his 'Smokin' Dick Burns' persona, now it must be said that sometimes Nick crosses the line into a little too, shall we say, 'adult' humour but not tonight, risque of course, funny as anything, a really entertaining set.

Smokin' Dick Burns
Nick took us nicely into our interval, a time to socialise, get more drinks from the bar and to ready ourselves for the second half.

We kicked off the second half with the wonderful 'Purple Dread' (a.k.a. Joy T Chance) with her bitter sweet and acutely observed poems about love, life and the world.

Purple Dread
Fran came back on with another fine song and then it was time for something completely different, Sarah Power has been a member of Parnassus since she was a teenager, she is now of course a mum of teenage children and working with her son on guitar has completely reinvented the humorous spoken work to music genre with 'Sarah and the Powerpuff Boy', their set this night was brilliant, so funny, any parent will identify and of course anyone who has waited in all day for an Amazon delivery!

Sarah and the Powerpuff Boy
How on earth could we follow that? Well with Chris Ripple of course, Chris delivered one of the most heartfelt, emotive and politically astute sets I have ever seen him do, the passion he puts into his poetry has to be heard to be believed especially those concerning Africa and this comes straight from the heart from first hand experience not some pseudo poncy political stance, as most people know Chris and Haddy are 'Over here' and the three youngest of their children are 'over there' in a country with a particularly unstable regime, my heart goes out to them.

Chris Ripple, you could feel the emotion.
With a lump in my throat and tears in my eyes (Which I may have tried but failed to disguise) after I brought Chris off stage it was time for Francesca to sing us one last song before I closed the show with the poem I wrote as a tribute to my mum.

And that was us done and dusted for another two years, as far as Stevenage Festival performances are concerned but we'll be back,individually and or collectively because well, just because we will!

Many thanks to the Stevenage Arts Festival Committee and the staff at the Gordon Craig Theatre for all the behind the scenes hard work and our audience and of course to all of the above performers without whom this splendid evening would not have been possible.

Cheers one and all.

Grant Meaby June 2015

Thursday, 25 June 2015

RHYTHMS OF THE WORLD ARCADECLECTIC STAGE 2015

The first thing that I'd like to say is a huge and public thank you to Chris Ripple for inviting me to co-host the Arcadeclectic Stage at this year's Rhythms of the World Festival, it was quite amazing.


Once again I had the pleasure of co-hosting the Arcadeclectic Stage at Rhythms of the World Festival in Hitchin on Saturday 20th and Sunday 21st June 2015.
Set in the beautiful grounds of The Priory in Hitchin, Hertfordshire Rhythms of the World brings us together for a celebration of music and culture from around the world and around the corner and plays host to over 30,000 visitors over the weekend to enjoy the music, dance, poetry, culture, food and a host of family friendly activities.

The Arcadeclectic started life as the old Arcade Stage back in the days when the festival was centred in Hitchin Town, strangely enough, in the arcade! Organised and run by Chris Ripple Arcadeclectic has achieved somewhat of a cult following in its own right irrespective of who may be appearing and has, and continues to be, somewhat anarchic, edgy, non-commercial, sometimes controversial but always different and all the better for it.
Almost anything goes, punk, folk, rock, jazz, blues, poetry, classical, opera, soul, bluegrass, country and Chris has the uncanny ability of booking artists who really could or should be gracing stages much bigger than ours, but that my friends is what it’s all about and what makes it so good to be part of.

I cannot speak for the other stages but on the Arcadeclectic team, apart from Chris’s amazing management, we have one of the best sound and lighting crews around, a great stage and front of house manager, an excellent recording and photographic crew and of course hosts who are 100% behind the ethos of this stage and ROTW in general, in short, we had a blast!

Located in our shady picturesque riverside setting beneath the trees, on Saturday morning after the final tweaks and checks that are always needed and of course the full safety checks we were up and ready to go spot on time.



Saturday 20th June.

Standing in for the injured Alan Cowley (Get well soon Alan) we kicked off with last minute replacement act, St. Clair who did us and himself proud I must say, an excellent performance that attracted our first crowd of the day and had us well and truly ‘open’ for business.

St. Clair
Next up was yours truly, yes me, first poet of the day and that my friends is one of the most difficult slots to fill but I had been promised by several people that they would come on down for my set and bless them, they did.
I was happy with my set and my delivery and judging by the feedback I had on the day and afterwards + several requests for copies of some of the poems I read, they were happy too.

Grant Meaby - Photo Colin Ridgway
Moving swiftly on, Enemies of Promise, from the Black Country, punk with fist in the air anthems with a political sting, they had us leaping about alright.

Enemies of Promise
Next up were Dover Tales, salty nautical stories narrated to a haunting musical backing, different, very entertaining and just the sort of thing the Arcadeclectic is famous for.

Dover Tales
Closer to home, next to grace our stage were Los Astronautas Muertos, led of course by the legendary Mark Astronaut this was a line up featuring Astronauts old and new, past and present that had never played together before and wow, was it good or what!

Los Astronautas Meurtos
What happens when you take a bunch of well established old school political punks and form an acoustic band, you get Steve White and the Protest Family, I love folk/punk especially when it’s done so well and carries some astute observations on life, politics and the state of the nation, which let’s face it is pretty crap, Steve & Co. were anything but, a  brilliant set despite the rain that had now started to fall as if it would never stop!

Steve White and the Protest Family
My fellow presenter, Joy T Chance in her Purple Dread persona was next up with her poignant and moving poems, she deserved a much better crowd than she got, bloody weather, anyway those of us who were there very much enjoyed her set.

Purple Dread
 Along with a bit of a break in the weather we came back after a short break with Smige, now if you’ve never seem Smige before you’ve missed a treat, this guy is amazing, funny, poignant (Yes I know I’ve used that term before and probably will again), ably assisted by Callum on additional guitar Smige treated us to a very entertaining set and started drawing in a reasonable crowd again.

Smige
The evening was drawing in and so were the crowd, no surprise that many came along to see our next act, the ever popular Fishwife’s Broadside, there’s so many of them in this band it’s a wonder we get them all on stage! Sing along rocking folky punk celebrating the triumph of the amateur, the muddy dancing began.

Fishwife's Broadside
All too soon it was time for our headline act, the ever popular Scum of Toytown, back again 20 years on from their debut album ‘Strike’ which established them as one of the UK’s best tuneful and different punk bands, with a melodic mix including elements of reggae and dub they attracted a huge crowd  to our stage and a lot of dancing was done, turning the front stage area into a sort of muddy soup, yeah, we were  a real festival now.

Scum of Toytown
Seriously, as soon as Saturday was done and dusted on our stage we had to start the shut down and make safe for the night activities which takes about an hour, we also reported the state of the front of stage area, not only for obvious health and safety reasons but also very much with limiting ground damage too.

Mud mud inglorious mud

Sunday 21st June

Thankfully it didn’t rain much more overnight and not at all on Sunday which brought us a bright sunny but breezy day so on Sunday morning we called for a formal inspection and were passed off as OK so were ready to rock &  roll at 12 noon on time again but today without Joy who had trapped a nerve in her back and was laid up for the day, big love Joy and wish you well soon.

Kicking us off on Sunday was the amazingly wonderful talented Stuart O’Connor who, despite some technical gremlins at the start of his set got them all sorted with the help of our brilliant sound crew and proceeded to treat us to a truly beautiful and somewhat ethereal set, Sunday was off to a great start.

Stuart O'Connor
Back by popular request we had that truly different and excellent band, Maharaja Blues, yes, true authentic blues played by Indian guys played on the finest ‘Resonator’ guitar I have ever seen and backed by real Indian percussion these guys have to be seen and heard to be believed, I’d have them back again next year too if I had my way.

Maharaja Blues
Next on was you singer Izzy Rowland, Chris and I saw Izzy at Club-85 a few months back and both came to the same conclusion, we wanted her for Arcadeclectic, she has the voice of an angel and despite being very nervous about her 1st big festival appearance she had the support from a lot of her friends and of course us and when she got up there on stage there was no stopping her, impressive or what, as soon as she was spotted by a certain G La Roche,  organiser of the Balstock Festival wanted to know how he could book her for that, we pointed him in the direction of Izzy’s mum & dad and the deal was done, Chris was able to announce it to the world when he brought Izzy off stage, one of those truly beautiful moments.

Izzy Rowland
Next it was time for something very different, Sarah and the Powerpuff Boy, the quirky and highly amusing poetry of our own Sarah Power accompanied by her son Johnathan on electric guitar pushing out some well known power riffs, not only did it work, I have not laughed so much, so long for a very long time and I was not alone, a truly remarkable set.

Sarah and the Powerpuff Boy
Talking of the remarkable, next along was the one and only G La Roche himself, now G really knows how to get a party started and that’s just what he did, we had sing along with Queen, Bob Marley, the biggest conga of the festival, a very entertaining version of Tribute with the help of Owen Stephen and all sorts of things besides, our stage may be the only one that carries a Parental Advisory warning, not without reason, bloody heck did we have fun with G.

G La Roche
Changing the theme and the whole flavour of the day we had South London Techno, Rap Rockers Ubermanouvre on next, they turned things up a notch or ten, a lot of bouncing was going on, a fine set too.

Ubermanouvre
Luke Tuchscherer was on next and not unexpectedly drew in a large but different crowd, Luke's work with his band The Whybirds may be quite well known but he is carving out a very respectable niche as a solo performer these days and he is good, very good, and he gave a truly fabulous performance.

Luke Tuchscherer
Our headliners for Sunday were that lovable bunch of noiseniks from London, The Fierce and the Dead, featuring the one and only Matt Stevens on guitar, now this is instrumental rock like you’ve never heard it before, how the hell can you have instrumental rock that ties in Matt’s looping, Kev’s amazing bass playing with elements of Rock, Prog, Metal, Jazz, Funk etc. They do, it works and that’s why TFATD are so beloved by the Prog, Classic Rock, Rock and Metal fraternity, one of the true cross over bands and we had them on our stage, oh yeah!

The Fierce and the Dead
After it was all over we were somewhat exhausted and. like other years we’ve done this, sadly saw little else of the rest of the festival but by all accounts it was great as usual which is good, so, until we go and do something like this again, it’s goodbye from me, for now, did I mention I’m now straight into running a show for the Stevenage Arts Festival?

Cheers m’ dears.
Grant

Sunday, 14 June 2015

WE ALL ROSE TO THE RHYTHM OF THE DRUM


Well it's been a while since the Fellowship were out and about in a group of  more than three, this night saw four of us gathering in a well known Hitchin hostelry for a pre gig beer or two before setting off to Club-85 for a very special Hawklords gig.

Although booked in to Club-85 as part of their now thankfully annual autumn tour, the Hawklords contacted Bob to see if they could play a date in early June as well as part of their mini warm up tour before hitting the summer festival scene, it was a no brainer and hence was quickly arranged, the fans would and did come attracting a large contingent of the Hawkwind family from near and far and boy oh boy were the Hawklords on fire, they treated us to a wealth of their own material plus of course some, predominantly Bob Calvert era, Hawkwind classics.

Talk about blissed out, this was a mighty gig and admirably kicked off by the first ever gig from techno trance due, The Beat Jugglers, piano led techno trance? Well, strange as it may seem, it worked and got the evening off to a fine start.


We all rose to the rhythm of the drum

We are wise, we are one
We are wild with the sun
We are wise we are one
We all rise to the rhythm of the drum

We met again in the Nightingale
Sharing laughs and damn fine ale
Passing time spent so well 
Creating new myths and tales to tell

We planned our summer festivals
And talked of future gigs to come
But first there was tonight
A Fellowship night of fun

Were we wise? We were one
We were wild with the sun
And there was no doubt
We’d be dancing to the rhythm of the drum

Beat Jugglers

Down the road to Club-85
Felling good to be alive
Piano led techno trance
I know it sound absurd
But it worked for the Beat Jugglers
And you can take my word

Club was really buzzing
The Hawkwind family were here 
The atmosphere was electric
And the time was drawing near

Hawklords in full swing
The Hawklords treated us one and all
To a gig that was just sublime 
We sang along we danced along
We all had a real good time

And time passes as it must, with unfailing certainty, 
all good things must end sometime, but not without an astounding encore

Going cosmic
We were wise, we were one
We were wild with the sun
We were wise we were one
We all rose to the rhythm of the drum

Judging by the crows reaction, it was a damn fine night indeed!



Grant Meaby – June 2015