Nov. 14th, 2015 11:14 pm
rhythmaning: (Saxophone)
Months ago, I bought a ticket for a gig - Nils Lofgren, of whom I was a big fan in the 1970s - his first couple of albums. I'd never seen him live, and frankly seeing heros forty years on seems like a bloody stupid idea. And then tonight I REALLY wasn't in the mood. The weather is awful, I was knackered, and I very nearly didn't bother going.

Which would have been a mistake, cos it was a bloody amazing gig. Just superb. He played for just under two hours, just him and a keyboard player.

Lofgren played a harp for the first number, which didn't really help my expectations, but then he strapped on his guitar and the show really took off.

I didn't know any of the songs in the first half. He changed his guitar for almost every song - the guitar roady was on stage almost as much as Lofgren - and I think he had at least for guitars. Mostly he played acoustics, though put through a large variety of pedals. He looped tracks so he could do rhythm and solo.

Then he played a brilliant version of Keith Don't Go. He played keyboards on a lovely Goin' Back. He did some tap dancing (and was very good - his keyboard player danced too).

They played I Came To Dance, Mud In Your Eye, Like Rain, and several things from Grin which sounded like familiar.

They encored with Rocking In The Free World, with the whole crowd singing along. He said he'd only played it with Neil Young before, rather than in his own shows. I can't speak for anyone else, but I had a lump in my throat as I tried to sing.

Just a great gig.
rhythmaning: (violin)

I've just asked Google the distance from the Lizard Peninsula in Cornwall to Dunnet Head, the most northerly point of the Scottish mainland.

Google tells me it is 803 miles, which I believe, and that it would take me 11 days to walk it, which I don't.

I think Google would have me walking 24 hours a day, at 3 miles an hour.

This shows how poorly Google knows me. My average walking speed is over for miles an hour...

(I have no intention of walking the length on mainland Britain, but was curious to see the distance. I've been reading about Richard Long, who walked thirty three miles a day for thirty three days from Lizard to Dunnet Head, a distance of 1089 miles. Presumably he didn't have Google to pick the shorter route for him. I doubt I could manage thirty three miles a day; I reckon 25 might be doable, at 3mph, perhaps. Over a month. )


Aug. 20th, 2015 11:24 pm
rhythmaning: (violin)

Tonight I went to the ballet, a modern, full length piece set to Mahler's Symphony 7, music I'm moderately familiar with. Indeed, the ballet was called Seven.

The company, Ballett am Rhein, and their dancing, was good, but it didn't really grab me. It seemed to have a narrative flow, though I couldn't work out what that narrative actually was. (Maybe I should have bought a programme if it mattered that much...)

The ballet didn't really add much to the music. They had a full orchestra - the RSNO - though since they were in the pit, they lacked a bit of punch.

Essentially, it's left me feeling a bit - meh...

rhythmaning: (Saxophone)
I've just been to a one-woman performance of Richard lll. How does one woman perform a play with such a large cast? By enrolling the audience as dumb extras! (I was Lord Hastings.)

It was a very chilling performance, but also full of humour - this was a Richard who takes selfies (when looking upon a glass) and receives messages by text rather than messenger, and who relished killing his audience.

Performed in the very apt surroundings of a side-chapel in a church, it was a very personal performance, too - the actor was never more than eight feet from the audience. She looked into your eyes as Richard schemed and killed.

A very engaging, witty and disquieting piece of Shakespearean drama.
rhythmaning: (Saxophone)

In the restaurant at lunch, the table behind us had a pair of maybe forty year old gentlemen dining. One of them was clearly hipster, maybe hipper. He had an ostentatious moustache with distinct handlebars which threatened to overthrow his face.

Late on, they were approached by a younger man with long hair, who bounded up and said to moustache-man, "Please excuse me for interrupting, but I just had to tell you how much I admire your work!"

I have no idea who any of these people were, what they did, or whether it is worthy of admiration.

I guess I'll never know.


Aug. 18th, 2015 11:32 pm
rhythmaning: (violin)

I spent the day on the Fringe. Well from 1ish. Till 11ish.

I saw two shows, both double-handers. The first Big Things Small Things, an excellent tale from Ireland. Really good storytelling and acting, two actors taking maybe twenty parts.

The second was possibly the most fringe Fringe show I've seen in perhaps fifteen years. Essentially it consisted of two people drinking beer. For an hour. They didn't speak at any point, although they did act to recorded voices. It worked very well and prompted lots of debate. Some members of the audience asked for their money back, and I can understand that, though hey, it's the Fringe! Take a risk! HAVE A BEER!!!

Of course, two shows in ten hours isn't a lot. There was an hour and a half in a very good restaurant, with an in depth analysis of the jazz festival, a couple of art exhibitions (the art at Summerhall this year is SHITE), half an hour in the cafe, an hour in the coffee shop with a sandwich for supper. And ninety minutes in the pub.

A balanced diet. Plays, art, coffee, whisky.


Aug. 5th, 2015 10:49 pm
rhythmaning: (Saxophone)

I was canvassed by Mark Lazarowicz, my former MP, campaigning for Labour's candidate in a forthcoming council by-election (caused in part by the SNP taking the seat he had). We had a short chat, bemoaning the lack of proportionality in the Westminster electoral system, and the confusing mixture of systems we have in Scotland. (FPTP for Westminster seats, semi-proportional "additional member system" for Holyrood, and the proportional "single transferable vote" for local council elections.)

I'm quite impressed that he could be bothered going out canvassing in the rain after being turfed out by the electorate.

Afterwards, I realised I should have thanked him for being my MP for much of the last fourteen years. He always responded very respectfully and positively when communicated with him, and we seemed to share similar views despite different party allegiances.

rhythmaning: (violin)

My twenty four hours in Berwickshire and Northumbria in the company of an old friend. We were students together, and sometime lovers.

I would walk to her flat late at night across the Meadows with my Walkman on.

And so I associate the Waterboys' The Whole of the Moon with late night romantic assignations, and, particularly my friend.

So it was quite strange when, driving her back to her house, she chose to put the CD on in my car. Much has changed in the last thirty years.

rhythmaning: (whisky)

I spent yesterday and today in the borders with friends. I walk around the ramparts at Berwick, a beer, then back across the border for a barbecue. And beer. And wine. And whisky. And lots of sausages. (Others had halloumi. Awful stuff. I had their sausages, too.)

Today we had a walk on Cheswick Sands, with views of Holy Isle and Bamburgh.

I've had a minor cold for the last few days. Today my hangover and cold have been battling it out in my throat.

My cold won. The hangover is gone but the cold has tightened its grip on my throat and nose.

rhythmaning: (Saxophone)
As part of my attempt to catch up with non-musical culture after eleven days :of the jazz festival, I went to see The French Connection this evening.

I've not seen it before (ok, catching up with a forty five year old movie... Though technically I wouldn't have been allowed to see it when it first came out!), though I had seen many clips and knew the story.

I was very impressed. The famous chase sequence is excellent. There is a sense of tension throughout, coupled with the feeling of boredom from the king stake outs. Hackman and Schneider are both superb.

A very enjoyable film, which felt surprisingly contemporary. Oh, and a pretty jazzy soundtrack from Don Ellis.
rhythmaning: (whisky)

The noted philosopher Bernard Crick used to live in my tenement building. (My neighbours tell me he held very good parties.) He died four years before I moved here, but we still get mail addressed for him.

Giving the fact that he has been dead for several years, I was rather amused that this magazine was delivered for him.



Jul. 15th, 2015 10:39 pm
rhythmaning: (whisky)
On Monday I saw the documentary about Amy Winehouse, "Amy". It was an impressive piece of work - very sad and occasionally harrowing as the inevitable drew closer.

I had heard all the hits, of course, but I had always scoffed at the description of Winehouse as a jazz singer, thinking it part of the publicity machine. I was quickly shown to be wrong: in her early days, she had a true jazz sensibility, and an amazing jazz voice to go with it. She knew her stuff. And the rawness in her voice, the pain and vulnerability, were genuine rather than a production gimmick.

There has been a lot in the press about how some people, particularly her father, he husband and her manager, feel misrepresented. The film definitely takes a view, and it is one that doesn't necessarily show them in a good light. The film showed up the conflicts of interest many around her had.

It is if course only one version of her story, and one that had lots of gaps. Every so often, a new boyfriend would appear amongst the cast of friends and hangers on - and just as quickly disappear. I wanted to know more about them. Where did she met them, why did she go out with them, and what was their role in the story?

Her tattoos proliferated, a living art work. I wanted to know why she chose one design or another, what she was trying to say through the painting on her skin. I wanted to know what those around her thought as she extended the canvas.

Just as boyfriends came and went, her band was there the whole time, but we only heard from the pianist, Sam Beste - and he was pretty quiet on her problems until the very end. What about the rest of the guys? They toured with her, rehearsed and recorded. Didn't they think to help her, or were they, like everyone else, leaving it to someone else to clean up? And how did she get her band - how did she pick them, audition them? Her music, such a key part of the story - and used to great effect in the film, her lyrics providing much of the narrative - included much more than was represented on screen.

There were a couple of interviews, with a doctor and a drug counsellor, that made me feel uncomfortable, as if they were breaking confidentiality. I don't think the counsellor actually took her on as a client, and maybe the doctor talks in general terms as well, but it didn't quite feel right.

Many people tried to help her. Much to my surprise, Russell Brand - who had just a passing role - came out well, as did her closest friends and former manager. When they tried to help or intervene, she pushed them away, relying more on those who benefited by her performing more rather than looking after her interests.

I think those that came out worst from the film were the paparazzi and other tabloid journalists who staked out her home and dogged her every move. At the beginning of the film there was a now-standard warning - "this film contains flash photography..." That's an understatement. The barrage of flash guns that Winehouse had to face later in her career was terrifying. I don't know how anyone could cope with that much persistent interference in their life. Even after her death they hounded her, trying to get photographs a her body was placed in the ambulance. I wanted to know what some of those journalists felt, if they recognised that they had played a part in the tragedy.

Of course the documentary, and the audience, were also complicit. The film used much news footage, and many still photographs taken by the paparazzi.

It was a very well made film, using others voices to stitch together a whole - one version of the truth. But it raised so many more questions. It's a shame she's not around to answer them.
rhythmaning: (Saxophone)
I went to see the reissue of Orson Welles' classic noir Touch of Evil last week, the1998 recut version.

It is one of my favourite films, and has been for years, though it must be a while since I had seen it, and longer still since I last saw it at the cinema.

I was very disappointed. It still looks great, of course, with superb photography, incredible lighting, and design. And Orson Welles exudes slime and corruption. It is an outstanding performance. Some of the dialogue is excellent

But the film didn't hang together well. Part of that was the change we have seen socially in the last fifty years: it was uncomfortable watching Charlton Heston made up as a Mexican. Of course, the racism inherent in the police force was part of the point, but the film seemed to reinforce rather than tackle it.

And I just didn't believe the characters would behave in the ways they did. Janet Leigh seemed determined to get herself into trouble. Wouldn't anyone in the police department think to mention that the motel was owned by Grandi before driving her there? (And you'd have thought that after her experience at the Grandi motel, she'd have known to avoid deserted country motels, but just a year later she was back, checking into the Bates' motel in Psycho...)

Vargas himself wouldn't have deserted his wife to chase American criminals, and he wouldn't have left his gun behind. The police too seemed to behave in ways that didn't make sense.

It is such a highly thought of film, and one that I had built up in its absence, that perhaps I couldn't help but be disappointed.

One of best things about the film was the score. There was music throughout, Henry Mancini at his jazzy best. Some really great jazz scoring.

Cat News.

Jul. 14th, 2015 08:30 pm
rhythmaning: (Saxophone)

I'm in the kitchen, cooking. Talisker-cat has followed me in, expectantly. He is standing by his bowl, which has half a portion of wet cat food in it, fresh (ish).

He looks at me expectantly.

I pick him up, physically, and place him in front of his bowl. Quite often that works, but not this evening.

He turns. He looks at me expectantly.

I'm not going to give him new food.

I lean down, and turn the bowl around, so the food is now directly facing Talisker.

He starts to eat.

rhythmaning: (Saxophone)

I don't normally do memes, but this one was rather interesting.

"Autocomplete Routlette. Type each letter of the alphabet into your browser's address bar and see what site it suggests, based on your history. Who's going to embarrass themselves? Who's going to reveal some useful sites?"

I used my phone, and the mobile chrome browser works in a different way to others, picking up sites that contain the letter as well as staying with the letter. Because of this, certain sites recurred frequently - mostly Wordpress and Facebook. I have censored these out, except Facebook appears twice - it was the only site for both D and M.

A http://www.amazon.co.uk/
B www.bbc.co.uk/radio3/programmes/schedules
C http://www.computerhope.com/issues/chsafe.htm
D http://www.democraticdashboard.co.uk
E http://www.economist.com
F https://www.flickr.com/photos/rhythmaning
G http://www.theguardian.com/uk
H http://hiddendoorblog.org/
I www.isstracker.com
J http://www.jazzfest.co.uk
K https://m.facebook.com/
L http://www.londonjazznews.com/
M https://m.facebook.com/home.php
N http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk
O https://wordpress.com/
P https://www.picturehouses.com/cinema/Cameo_Picturehouse
Q http://quiz.trulia.com/
R http://rbs.co.uk/
S http://www.smws.co.uk
T http://www.thequeenshall.net
U http://www.unlockdemocracy.org
V http://www.valvonacrolla.co.uk/
W http://www.wikiart.org
X http://xkcd.com/
Y https://yougov.co.uk/
Z http://www.edinburghjazzfestival.com/programme/whats-on.html


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